Where are the Lintoch Steps?

In the autumn of 1687, James Renwick preached at another ‘lost’ location known as ‘Lintoch-steps’. At the time, Renwick had just recovered from a period of illness and started to preach against the moderate presbyterian ministry’s acceptance of toleration, an innovation in Scotland’s religious settlement which James VII & II had just enforced without parliamentary consent.

James VII’s edicts of toleration for Scotland were a bold innovation within the British context and were intended to be a model for all three British kingdoms. The King’s main aim in introducing toleration was to aid his Catholic coreligionists, rather than liberate moderate presbyterians from persecution. (Harris, Revolution, 166-71.)

In return for granting liberty of worship to Scotland’s moderate presbyterians, Quakers and Catholics, it was required that they accept or tacitly acknowledge the King’s absolute authority. In other words, in return for “state” tolerating other denominations out with the established episcopal-controlled Kirk and the lifting of the penal laws against them, the Scottish kingdom would become, in practice, an absolute monarchy. Only the militants of the United Societies, who due to their adherence to the Covenants were opposed to both absolutism and toleration, were specifically excluded from toleration, as one of the edicts other aims was to isolate from their moderate presbyterian brethren and destroy them.

Renwick’s sermon at Lintoch-steps marked a turning point in the Societies’ relations with the moderate presbyterian faction. Up until the summer of 1687, both the moderate presbyterian leadership and the United Societies had resisted the changes to church and state brought in by the Restoration regime and been hostile to James’s toleration scheme. However, after the disastrous Argyll Rising of 1685 against James, much of the surviving moderate presbyterian leadership had sought rapprochement with the Crown. In July 1687, the moderate presbyterian ministry took the final step in their faction’s “peace process” with their Catholic king and accepted toleration. In return for their de facto acceptance of the monarch’s absolute authority, they were permitted to establish meeting houses and preach, provided nothing seditious was said. (Jardine, ‘United Societies’, I, 171-5.)

‘Lintoch-steps’ was Renwick’s first public response to the presbyterian ministers’ actions.

His sermon was on Canticles 4.16: ‘Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits’.

In the sermon he attacked the enactment of James VII’s edicts of toleration as the ‘cope stone on all our other steps of defection’ which had caused the Lord to hide himself from Scotland, and condemned outright the moderate ministry’s acceptance of this ‘sinful liberty … as a mercy, or our duty’, as another cause of the Lord’s wrath.

A copy of the sermon, September 1687. Some notes or heads of a preface and sermon (Canticles chapter 4, last verse) at Lintoch – steps, by that great man of God, and now glorified martyr Mr James Renwick, confirms the date, location name and subject matter of the sermon. The full text of Renwick’s lecture and sermon can also be found in A Choice Collection of Very Valuable Prefaces, Lectures and Sermons: Preached Upon the Mountains and Muirs of Scotland, in the Hottest Time of the Late Persecution, William Wilson ed. (Glasgow, 1776), 509-21, although it does not state where it was preached.

So far, so good, but where was ‘Lintoch-steps’? We know what was said and when it was said, but not where it was said. Does that matter? In this case, it does!

The placename ‘Lintoch-steps’ is not on modern OS maps. This suggests that ‘Lintoch-steps’ is either a variation on a existing placename or has disappeared from the map, or is possibly a local placename or landscape feature that was not recorded by earlier map makers.

However, the placename ‘Lintoch’ appears in a letter from Robert Wodrow to Lord Pollok discussing the appointment of elders to Eastwood parish in Renfrewshire. In the letter, Wodrow names a John Jamison in ‘Lintoch’ and others as candidates for elderships and seeks Lord Pollok’s views on them:

‘They desired me to acquaint you with the names of the rest that we may have your thoughts anent them before we goe any further, and if your lordship knou any others that we have missed I hope you will acquaint me. They are John Jamison in Lintoch, Rob Rouan in Byers, John Steuart, Heugh Biggart. In Egling-touns land we are much straitned and can find none…’. (Robert Wodrow, Early Letters of Robert Wodrow, 1698-1709, ed. L. W. Sharp (Scottish History Society, 1937), 273.)

From Wodrow’s letter, it is clear that Lintoch lay within Eastwood parish and that it was sited on the Pollok estate.

The ‘steps’ part of the placename also suggests that at ‘Lintoch’ there was a set of stepping stones across a burn or river, as other similar placenames in Scotland occur at riverside sites.

Armed with this information, it is time to turn to the National Library of Scotland’s excellent online collection of digital maps for Renfrewshire. (Links will be given if permission is obtained. Until then you will have to find Eastwood parish in eastern Renfrewshire which lies just below Glasgow. The best place to start in Thomson’s 1826 map of Renfrewshire which has the parishes marked on it. Eastwood is outlined in yellow.)

‘Lintoch’ appears in Joan Blaeu’s Atlas (1654) on the Renfrewshire map as ‘Linthauck’, near the confluence on the White Cart Water and the Levern Water. It lies next to Byrs (known as Byres on later maps) and on the opposite bank to Nether Pollock on the White Cart and Crookston Castle on the Levern. Blaeu confusingly places ‘Linthauck’ just inside Lanarkshire, when Eastwood parish is in Renfrewshire. Timothy Pont on his hand drawn map 33 Renfrewshire of c.1583-c1601 appears to name it ‘Linthaudic’.

It does not appear on General Roy’s Military map of the late 1740s, but Roy’s map enhances our view of the site by showing a woodland occupying the area of the confluence between the White Cart Water and the Brock Burn and that no road ran to ‘Lintoch’. However, the site, or a closely related site of a similar name, reappears on Ainslie’s relatively accurate map of 1796 as ‘Lint Haugh’ on the south bank of the White Cart near to where a road crosses the White Cart at the [Rone] ford on its way in towards Nether Pollock or Cardonald House. (On the 1821 edition it appears in contracted form as ‘LintHh’)

On Thomson’s map of 1826, it is recorded as ‘Limehaugh’ with a road leading to the White Cart Water at the Rone Ford. A great image of Linthaugh farm in the 1830s can be found here.

On the first OS map of 1856-58 the road and wood, for the first time named as Crookston Wood, remain, but ‘Lintoch’ has completely vanished. However, the first OS map does show that a second ford, a weir and a new footbridge across the White Cart Water in the vicinity of ‘Lintoch’, a further indication that the area around ‘Lintoch’ was an established crossing point for the White Cart.

From the maps it appears that ‘Lintoch-steps’ lay, close to ‘Lintoch’ and the Crookston Wood in Eastwood parish, Renfrewshire, and that it was probably a set of stepping stones that crossed the White Cart Water. Today, the original location of Lintoch is approximately at OS Ref. NS 533 630 near Linthaugh Road and Lochar Park in Pollok, Glasgow.

Get directions to or from Lintoch, Pollok

The discovery of the Lintoch-steps’s location on the Pollok estate in Eastwood parish further enhances our understanding of Renwick’s purpose in preaching there. The location was probably chosen to make a dramatic political point. Since 1683, Sir John Maxwell of Pollok had been one of the most renowned members of the moderate presbyterian faction. In 1684 had been fined the extraordinary sum of £8,000 Sterling (£96,000 Scots or 64,000 merks) for harbouring fugitives among his tenants and refusing to take the Test Oath. (Wodrow, History, III, 466, 481-2, 492.)

At the same time, Maxwell of Pollok had defied the Restoration regime by privately maintaining and settling Matthew Crawford, a moderate presbyterian minister, in Eastwood parish. Crawford had a track record of opposition to the United Societies’s platform and in the month prior to Renwick’s preaching at Lintoch-steps had come out into the open and attended the first public meeting of moderate presbyterian ministers after toleration which had publicly approved a glowing loyal address to James VII thanking him for granting toleration. (Fasti, III, 134; Jardine, ‘United Societies’, I, 172.)

For Renwick, the glowing letter’s ‘rhapsody of flatteries’ more became ‘court parasites’ than presbyterians. In preaching at Lintoch-steps, Renwick was stamping on the toes of the leaders of moderate presbyterian faction and reminding them of the Societies’ outright opposition to toleration and of their desire to contest the moderate leadership’s ‘defection’ in their backyard.

Text © Dr Mark Jardine


~ by drmarkjardine on September 6, 2010.

One Response to “Where are the Lintoch Steps?”

  1. […] in Renfrewshire. Renwick certainly preached at other sites in the shire such as Craigminnan, Lintoch-steps and possibly at Linthills. However, the Greenock the Privy Council referred to is undoubtedly […]

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